Category Archives: Uncategorized

Archives: the gift that keeps on giving

Sometimes it takes a long time for information in archives to become accessible for a range of reasons. It may simply not have been examined, in other cases, age and condition have prevented our ability to literally see or hear the information. A sparkling New York colleague, Jean Green from Binghamton University, recently posted a link on her Facebook page to the following article about work at Yale University to reveal text on a map that is believed to have been used by Columbus in exploration leading to what are now called the Americas: http://www.wired.com/2014/09/martellus-map/

And that reminded me of another set of revelations thanks to technology lending insight on a question that those of you in my generation struggled with, what triggered the Ohio National Guard to shoot at Kent State students (a subject still raw for many of us). In 2010 technology brought forward more information:

http://www.cleveland.com/science/index.ssf/2010/10/analysis_of_kent_state_audio_t.html

More information on both of these stories, and countless others, will emerge as technology and work by archivists and researchers continues. If you know of examples of information finally emerging as archival records are treated or used, feel free to share it here. A good reminder after a long week (for me at least) of why we do what we do!

Take Action for Archives!

For all of you who’ve made the commitment to participate in the “The Year of Living Dangerously for Archives” and for those who are still wondering just what this is all about (see the 9/3/2104 blogpost here), the first challenge opportunity is now live on the SAA website:  http://www2.archivists.org/living-dangerously/value-of-archives

You’ll find suggestions for concrete actions to take in the next days/weeks to further our efforts to raise awareness of the importance and value of archives and archivists. Check out the suggestions, put your own spin on them, try them out and then tell us the results of your efforts.

Challenges will be issued periodically in the future focusing on different issues, times, approaches, or for particular groups within SAA whether Student Chapters, Fellows, or any of our roundtables and sections. Do one, do many—every action is another step forward in raising awareness.

It is an absolute joy and privilege to be part of a profession that can change lives, alter the path of policy, affect the economy, capture the minds of students, promote insight and understanding, and provide the information infrastructure for democracy. It’s time we let others know that this is what archives and archivists do. Join us in taking action for archives!

A recent opportunity to raise awareness of archives

Earlier this week, the New York Times published an op-ed piece, “The New History Wars,” by American Historical Association Executive Director Jim Grossman. (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/02/opinion/the-new-history-wars.html?_r=0)   Because Jim’s piece teed up an opportunity to note the essential role of archival records in education, Dennis Meissner, Nancy Beaumont, and I pulled together and submitted the “letter to the editor” below.

If the world stays calm, no movie stars get married, and no natural disasters occur, there is a very modest chance this might get printed. But despite the odds, it seemed worth a try. Because I have, and will continue, to challenge our members to get involved in raising awareness of archives, it seemed appropriate to let you know that I’m trying to do the same—to find positive and productive opportunities to draw attention to the many ways in which archival records and archivists contribute to the educational, social, and political conduct of our society. I’ll continue to look for chances to raise a voice on the value and importance of archives, and hope you’ll join me in speaking up about archives whenever we can!

Here’s the letter as submitted (with painful deletions to get it down to the required 175 words): Continue reading

In the beginning….there is gratitude.

What’s the first thing I should say after assuming the presidency? I can think of no words more important or more heartfelt than “Thank you.” As my predecessor, the amazing Danna Bell said in her first blogpost, “We are SAA”. The fabric and nature of SAA is woven from strong, colorful, and unique threads that are our members, our leaders, our staff, and our supporters. Acknowledging all the ways in which people contribute to SAA could become a dissertation-sized post and even then likely only skim the surface.

It would be an interesting exercise to estimate the amount of contributed time that members give and even more so to consider the “cost-sharing” it represents. Begin with service on roundtables, sections, committees, boards, council and officers. Then add on the time and energy members give to preparing sessions for the annual meeting, writing articles for Archival Outlook or The American Archivist. Now add the mentoring, navigating, and informal advising that goes on between us at the Annual Meeting and throughout the year. Our membership is the mother lode of professional generosity.

The dedication of the SAA staff is priceless in their responsiveness to members, their skill in navigating the management of our association, and in the gift of their positive attitude toward service. The more I have been involved in leadership, the more they dazzle me with their ability to simultaneously juggle balls, dishes, axes, fruit, and the occasional flaming torch.

As the year goes forward, there will doubtless be times of challenge, accomplishment, bafflement, contention, energy, and maybe a few hearty chuckles. We will be what we make of ourselves and I am grateful for your contributions to the amazing patchwork quilt that is the Society of American Archivists.

Many, many thanks to all of you for all you do.

Kathleen

SAA’s distinguished new rep to NHPRC: Peter Gottlieb!

Receipt of the latest NHPRC e-newsletter today reminded me our mega-talented and very wise past President Peter Gottlieb is our new rep to the Commission. Making such appointments is one of the privileges of the SAA President, and I sure felt fortunate that Peter was willing to serve. He’s one of those members whose passion and influence endures into retirement. He’s also a member of our hard-working Government Affairs Working Group and represented the Society at last summer’s summit of regional archival societies in San Diego. And it’s clear that things archival aren’t his only passion: as his Facebook pal, I’m aware that he recently spent a week in El Salvador helping Habitat for Humanity build houses–and he wouldn’t be a true Wisconsite if he weren’t an avid fisherman!

Thank you, Peter!

A day in the life …

OK, so today wasn’t exactly a routine day in my role as the current SAA President; SAA issues pretty much dominated it, which isn’t always the case. (And, sad to say, on a day when my day job was crying out for attention even more than usual! My spectacular/generous/supportive boss is no doubt ruing the day that he enthusiastically encouraged me to run for this office.) Given that we on the SAA Council often hear that what we do is totally mysterious [insert spooky soundtrack here], I thought some of you might find a rundown of the stuff that went down sort of interesting. At the very least, it’ll tell me where my day went. Continue reading